Wednesday 5 December 2012

Letting Go of God

by Kwame Weekes

Trust in Yahweh and do what is good,
make your home in the land and live in peace;
make Yahweh your only joy
and he will give you what your heart desires. Psalm 37:3

I am, perhaps, the weakest of all of my friends. Six years of my life was spent completely devoted to Jesus Christ. Like any love, I wanted to know everything there was to know about Jesus. I spent time with him and took him almost everywhere with me; almost because there were times I needed to take the crucifix off from around my neck to lessen the anticipated guilt of something I was about to do, similar to a man who takes off his wedding ring before he invites the woman at the bar back to his apartment when he's out on business. And because my love was real, every time I fell short of my commitment, I was sure to fall on my knees begging for mercy. Seven times seventy times I would, and still the love persisted. People have different reasons for doing what they do, but for me, if my memory is reliable and my honesty is true, my love was resting on a promise; a promise of love returned in abundance, of happiness, of purpose and passion, of meaning. My friends are still in love waiting on this promise, but I, in my weakness, have let go.

As I mature in my non-belief, I am beginning to see that there is very little difference - if any at all - among human beings. The same dynamics that are present in a relationship with a human lover are present in a relationship with a god. If you are not this person, you surely know someone who is madly in love with another human being. Their love is so bright it makes them blind to their own worth and the fact that their lover is blind to it as well. They would take the insults, the beating, the nights of loneliness and all the other niceties that come with unhealthy relationships while you look on in pity, disgust, or absolute horror. Tyler Perry is one of my least favourite directors of all time, but I like that he always makes room for this type of character in his work. This is probably why so many people like his movies - it gives us a "Good Friday bobolie" to beat on, ridicule and offer advice to. "How she schupid so! She takin all da licks. Girl, leave he ass and go by the next man eh!" How wise we become when we stand outside looking in. 

People in relationships like this tend to downplay the negatives and emphasise the positives, however few and far between. It's like the Stockholm syndrome where you think your kidnapper is a praiseworthy person because he offered you a slice of bread and some water when you were hungry, even though you had to eat it with your hands tied with ropes. In our darkest times we hold on to any glimmer of light because there is nothing else to do. I cannot laugh at persons like this. I weep for them. They are holding on to a hope that doesn't exist and I weep for them.

Many of my old friends are believers and many of them have experienced the darkest of times. Even though we don't speak anymore, my love for them sometimes pushes me, the non-believer, to my knees, begging the god that I don't believe in to be merciful to those that love him. He never listens. Still their love persists and I look on - like you look on in a Tyler Perry movie - and I say, "Hoss, why you wasting your time with this god thing?" Tomorrow, tomorrow, it would get better tomorrow. Tomorrow is always coming. Sometimes tomorrow arrives, but only lasts for a day. Then the darkness comes returns. Is there ever a right time to let go of a god?

I cannot answer this question for anyone but myself. For me, the right time was November of 2011. I could no longer live with the belief that if I made Yahweh my only joy he would give me my heart's desires, especially since my heart was not that wanting. My requests were simple - joy, peace, meaning, purpose. There were days when these did come and I made sure my praises on those days were loud enough for my atheist friends to hear. "Yuh see! My God is great! I could never have done so well in exams if it weren't for him." Yes, I did do “well” in exams but some of my atheist friends received scholarships while I didn’t. If it wasn’t me being happy about good grades it was me happy about meeting a new person who shared the same unpopular interests as me. For everything I was happy about, I could find a number of non-believers who enjoyed the same to greater degrees. It was like I was overwhelmingly happy about the bread and water I was eating with bounded hands thinking it was better than those who were eating golden crusted bread, with melted butter and cheese, washing it down with hot Milo. 

What is different between the relationship with God and the relationship with another human being, however, is inherent in the natures of the two objects. God is supposed to be eternal and all-powerful while human beings are temporal and weak. For this reason, it is incredibly easier for a person to let go of a human relationship than it is to let go of a divine one. God's promises go into the after-life, while human promises must be fulfilled in this lifetime. After a while, a person may cut their losses and recognise that the promises their deadbeat husband were making are never going to be fulfilled. A woman knows that after a certain age, the promise of having children is null because it is biologically impossible. But with God, anything is possible, and we hold on to the hope that He would work a miracle just for us, if not in this lifetime, in the next. We are so desperate for a miracle that perfectly ordinary things like passing a difficult examination are aggrandised beyond what they really are. And when the statistically improbable happens to someone else - a 56 year old woman has a perfectly healthy baby - we adopt that story and believe it would happen for us as well. We’re only hurting ourselves.

As condescending as this may sound, I wish some of my old friends would let go of God. What I have written thus far assumes the existence of a god with whom people are able to have relationships. The relationship becomes much harder for me to watch considering this god may not exist beyond the imagination. Suppose I am wrong and he does exist. Aren't you worth more than how you are being treated? To me, holding on to the hope that joy cometh in the morning is beautiful only up to a point. When the promise-giver holds the promise before you like a carrot on a stick and extends the reward’s fruition to beyond the grave, I cannot find love or recognition of your worth in that gesture. It’s as if you’re willingly putting yourself out there to be mocked.

Perhaps I am wrong and my giving up was too soon; I should have asked for strength and the intercession of Mother Teresa. I don't think so, though. I think I just found my worth and had no room for a love that tests. You may consider me weak, but I consider the decision to let go of God the greatest show of strength I have ever displayed.   


  1. Absolutely fabulously well written and ideas supremely and clearly expressed...were you in my head, I've this private conversation all the time!!! Aren't you worth more - indeed we certainly are. Don't allow yourself to be taken hostage and then try to negotiate with your very violent captor, we took that key that was always there and let ourselves out. Good for you! Great article!!!

  2. This is a well written article. I am reading this article and I am push to think of my very good friend that is at this moment going through this kind of self debate. He sees himself as a free-thinker, but is hanging on to his God belief via Pascal Wager.

  3. Reading this article, it initially seems quite well written and clear. A deeper inspection however, reveals the opposite. I'll take two points to show what I mean by such:

    Taking quotes directly, you wrote - "Six years of my life was spent completely devoted to Jesus Christ", "I spent time with him and took him almost everywhere with me" only to later say "god may not exist beyond the imagination".

    If I'm deducing what you are saying correctly, You found your 'god' to be a product of your imagination. I'm not sure if you understand exactly how hard that is to believe. That one could go around pretending to be in a relationship with a god for 6 years but actually its a just figment of their imagination. That is something we're supposed to stop doing at age 7 at most. Doesn't particularly give a good impression.

    That I think is one the biggest scourge on religion today. People are no longer honest with themselves and others as you eventually were 6 years later. It is my 'personal' belief that the HUGE majority of 'god believers' are actually in the position you were in.

    They have had no contact with God, they have never meet him, they have never seen him, they have no personal evidence of his existence or his manifestation, he has never spoken to them etc. but they go around pretending that it so, pretending to be 'carrying him everywhere with them', 'talking to him' and 'spending time with him' trying to fool themselves and everyone around them that it is so. I commend you for eventually being honest and coming clean.

    Taking Christianity for example, the Bible speaks of Moses meeting God in the burning bush, him talking face-to-face with Abrahamm, Angels visiting Mary etc. and same for all the other prophets yet they doesn't see that as the way/relationship to have. Instead they resort to lie, and attempt to bluff themselves and everyone around them that they are in contact with 'God', instead of insisting on having the same experience as these and actually having 'personal proof' and relationship. Some even do it for a lifetime and this form of dishonestly whilst portraying 'moral upstanding' I consider to be a mild form of insanity.

    Whether that is the experience of every other 'God believer' is definitely another topic. I 'personally' think it foolish to extrapolate one's personal experience to every other person out there. Just plain outright foolish.

    I'll put the second point in a following post

    1. Second:
      I have been exposed a bit Christianity and from my very limited understanding, your understanding of it seems quite strange tbh. (Maybe in-part due to point 1). You seemed to have a purely materialistic approach, in the sense of being willing to give up something on the premise that you get something in return in this life or another.

      Its uncertain why you would think of it in this way. Almost no person in the Bible I believe had a life of golden crusted bread, with Milo to wash it down. From Job, to all the Prophets being murdered, to Jesus himself being crucified, to all his apostles being persecuted, beaten, whipped and eventually murdered. I therefore have no idea why you would have believed your life here to be the opposite with 'free' scholarships etc.. Again, this doesn't necessarily 'give a good impression'.

      I don't know but was it therefore your 'understanding' that although the Atheist may have put in more effort, studying tirelessly to achieve what he wanted, I can just walk into an exam and 'hope' for a miracle 'scholarship'. Should the atheist then be denied the scholarship despite his work and it be given to me instead? That again is nigh insanity imho.

      From my limited understanding, its the relationship with Christ, the pursuit and attainment of Truth, control and mastery of themselves and circumstances, internal peace, understanding their origin, purpose and fulfilling this with passion that their real joy. Some even say that if heaven and eternal life was never promised, it'll still be worth just having the 'Lord" in their life. But considering that you actually had an 'imaginary God' its understandable that you would have taken the materialistic approach.

      Based on these two premises, I find this article intrinsically flawed, showing imo a total misunderstanding of 'Christianity' as presented by the Bible, and then drawing conclusions upon that. But on the surface its an apparently clever and well written article nonetheless.

      I know its too long a response, but hope it makes sense. Take Care.

    2. Thanks for the reply senses123. My apologies for my late response.

      On your first point:
      When I said that god may not exist beyond the imagination, it was me saying that as an atheist. When I was a Christian, I thought my relationship with god was real. Your charge that people go around pretending to believe is a harsh one. People genuinely believe - as I did - that they are walking with God. Perhaps there are a few that pretend - like I pretended when my faith was slowly waning. But persons who give up worldly pleasures, consider becoming ministers, live lives attempting to submit totally to Christ, are not pretending. Not knowingly, at least. And I think knowing is necessary to call it pretending.

      Second point:
      The Milo reference was a metaphor. The things you listed that Christianity is really about in your third-to-last paragraph are true. However, having a "materialistic" view is not completely separate from the view you put forward. "Real joy" and "peace" - whatever they are - are things to be "really" (materially) experienced. They are not ephemeral ideas. Joy and peace are feelings. Some theologians try to pull it away from the realm of feelings - probably for the same reason you are disagreeing with me now - but then they just become meaningless words. Many serve God without ever experiencing this "real joy" or "peace."

      I didn't give up on God because he didn't give me a scholarship. I gave up on God because I was suffering and, more impressionable on me at the time, I saw others suffering to degrees I could never empathise with. Job endured his suffering out of some "love for god" that, according to you, should persist in spite of suffering, because knowing God is reward in itself. I beg to disagree with this. If the story of Job didn't end with him being rewarded, if we were never told of a heaven, suffering would be seen for the unfair lot in life it really is. Do you look on in admiration when a wife stays with her husband when that husband directly or indirectly causes her great suffering? If a man beats his wife - as God beat Job by killing his family and all the other unimaginable things - would you applaud her for loving him still? This was my point. We tell ourselves that loving God is its own reward, but in the back of our minds, we hold on to the hope that we will be rewarded for it, whether with joy or peace or heaven or a Lamborghini.

  4. I think you are missing my point completely.

    You say as a Christian you genuinely believed that God exist. That is fair and thats not what I'm discounting. What I'm highlighting is that fact that if He does not exist, then every mention of you "speaking to him this morning" and him "telling you something" etc. was a lie, unless non-existent things could achieve these manifestations. I'm dealing with reality, its either God is actually doing these things or if He doesn't exist then He isn't. Thats totally separate from what one believes. These ministers etc. that you speak of. As big men and women its hard for me to understand that 'unknowingly' they are thinking that a God that doesn't exist is talking to them. Its either he is or isn't and if you don't know whether something happened to you or not. Thats a sad state. I'm talking about reality. Not Belief.

    Job didn't just endure his suffering out of some mystical 'love for God'. What could he have done? Could he have stopped the suffering? He had to endure the continue and suffer whether or not he continued to 'love God'. Why should his love for God cease to exist because he was suffering. Is God the author of his suffering? What would he have achieved by that. Would his suffering have stopped. No. Love for God or the absence of that would not decrease suffering. It was his belief in God that helped him endure it. He didn't endure it BECAUSE he loved God. It was his God the helped him endure it and then restore 7 fold. Can't mix up your cause and effect here. That is easy to do.

    When you give the husband and wife example, it shows the same train of thought. The husband is the cause of the suffering and leaving him would cause the suffering to cease. Not so with God. He is neither the author of your suffering neither would leaving him cause your suffering to cease.

    Thats what you are missing. Christianity is not indelibly connected to suffering or a lack thereof, material wealth or a lack thereof. It never was, never will be. Christ and his disciples wasn't neither would anyone be today. Anyone who becomes a Christian with a different thought is clearly delusional. Job didn't endure to the suffering to get the 7 fold restoration. Didn't even know that would have happened. Thats my second point. Not that as a Christian we would be materialistically wealthy or lack suffering. Its that God is the peace and joy in the midst of all that. Present tense, not just one to come. That is the joy and peace, the shoulder to lean on, the person you could talk to and make sense of it all. Not the cause of it and not just in hope of some Lamborghini at the end of the road.

    This is the Christianity of the Bible but it seems to have all been muddled up somewhere along the line. There would be less disappointed people if they understood what they were getting into and were sincere about it all along.

  5. I must say I can identify with you. As an immature in Christ, I use to feel and think the same way until I was enlightened by the Holy Spirit.

    You see, as christians we are called to share in Christ's suffering who made himself of no reputation and humbled himself even unto death. We were not placed on earth to live the world's standard of "the good life" which focuses on material gain: fine houses, cars, good health, college degrees, etc. Christ calls us not be of this evil world. Not to say he cant bless us with these things as long as its in His permissive will to do so, he will accordingly but His general will for all mankind is his plan of salvation. At no time as christians our focuses should be on material gain.

    Christ dying on the cross was the greatest suffering any man could experience but it was done for a greater good, to save us from our sins so we may have eternal life who trust and obey him. Contrary to popular teachings today, Christ crucifixion is not an assurance of good health and wealth. It was for the sole purpose of saving our souls from an everlasting burning hell! That by definition is true success!
    I pray that you will come to the true knowledge of what a christian's purpose is here on earth.
    Here is a link to a website that helped me so much in my walk with Christ
    Click on biblical answers for a variety of audible bible studies.
    God bless!